Mommsen, Theodor

BORN 30 Nov 1817, Garding, Schleswig - DIED 1 Nov 1903, Berlin: Charlottenburg
BIRTH NAME Mommsen, Christian Matthias Theodor
GRAVE LOCATION Berlin: Dreifaltigkeitskirchhof II, Bergmanstrasse 39-41, Kreuzberg (O-UA-36)

Theodor Mommsen was the son of a Lutheran minister. He grew up in Bad Oldesloe. He went to a gymnasium in Altona and studied Jurisprudence at the University of Kiel from 1838 to 1843. After he received a Danish grant he studied Roman inscriptions in Italy and France. During the revolution of 1848 he supported the monarchy.

He was appointed professor in Leipzig in 1848. When a new constitution was introduced in Saxony in 1851 he protested and he was forced to leave his job. He went in exile to Zürich, where he was Professor in Roman Law. In 1854 he obtained a professorship in Breslau and in 1857 he was engaged as research professor at the Academy of Sciences in Berlin. In 1858 he became a member of the Academy and from 1861 to 1887 he lectured as Professor of Roman History in Berlin.

For several years he was a member of the Prussiian House of Representatives and from 1881 to 1884 a member of the Reichstag. Initially he had been enthousiastic about the German Empire, but he didn't agree with Bismarck's social policies. When historian H. von Treitschke started an antisemitical campaign Mommsen strongly opposed this. Still he supported nationalism and militarism.

He married Marie Riemer, the daughter of a publisher from Leipzig. They had sixteen children. In 1880 during a fire in his house several old manuscripts were destroyed. Some of them were on loan from foreign universities.

He worked hard and was often seen reading books on the street. He received wide recognition for his work and in 1902 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his "Römische Geschichte" ("Roman History").


The gravesite of Theodor Mommsen at the Dreifaltigkeitskirchhof II, Bergmanstrasse, Berlin.
Picture by Androom (15 Jul 2005)


Winkler Prins Encyclopedie (editie 1909), 1909
Theodor Mommsen - Wikipedia

Momo, Alessandro

Published: 16 May 2010
Last update: 04 Jan 2022